Old fishing village cashes in on handicraft market

By Song Wei (
Updated: 2011-08-24 11:26

Old fishing village cashes in on handicraft market

Handmade leather bags hang on the wall at Tsering's house, Junpa village, Tibet on Aug 23, 2011. [Photo/] 

At the conjunction of Yarlung Zangbo River and Lhasa River, 50 kilometers southwest of Lhasa, there lies Tibet's only fishing village - Junpa.

Junpa's fishing history dates back to the 17th century. Legend has it that an abundance of aquatic resources once made Lhasa River overflow with fish. When there was no more room for more fish in the river, the fish began to grow wings and jump onto the farmland looking for food. Villagers turned to God for help and God said hunting the flying fish was the only solution. Then the history of the fishing village began.

But today the village is no longer dependent on fishing, and a new business is booming. Tsering, a 53-year-old villager, who has been a leather craftsman for more than 20 years, runs the village's biggest workshop, with 15 workers. He said nearly all of the 80 households in the village have their own family-run workshops.

"The mechanization of farming in recent years has saved us much time on farms and fishing, and given us more time on handicrafts," said Tsering, who cited harvest time as an example: "Mechanization has shortened the time to only one month a year."

"The days of‘making ends meet' have long gone," Tsering said. "The average net income of a craftsman can reach 30,000 yuan ($4,689) per year."

Tsering said the village used to be isolated from the outside world, but the development of road construction has brought tourists to his house and also shortened the link of supply and demand.

"Our products are well received by domestic and foreign tourists, companies compete with one another in cooperating with us," said Tsering. Striking an optimistic tone, he said he was not worried about sales as long as he gives his heart to every piece.

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